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Standley White

Inversion traps pollution and cold air in Reno

By January 4, 2013

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A weather inversion has put a lid on the Truckee Meadows, trapping frigid air and fostering the accumulation of air pollution in the skies over Reno and Sparks.

Inversion traps pollution and cold air in Reno, Nevada, NV
Inversion traps pollution and cold air in Reno, Nevada. Photo © Stan White.

This is a regular winter phenomenon around here, caused by warmer air aloft, freezing temperatures, and a lack of stormy weather (i.e., wind). It's helped along by snow on the ground, which is lingering after December's snowfall because it's simply been too cold for much of it to melt.

So how cold is it? For days, temperatures in the Reno area have struggled to reach the freezing mark as daily highs, with nighttime lows in the teens. It's been even colder in outlying areas like Cold Springs Valley and Galena. I'm just glad I don't live further east in Nevada, where places like Elko and Ely and been below zero. That's cold. Don't expect much relief any time soon - the weather forecast is calling for similar conditions into next week.

An interesting aspect of the inversion situation is that it is actually warmer up at Lake Tahoe than it is in Reno. For example, as I'm writing it is 20 degrees in Reno and 44 degrees up at Incline Village on the north shore. That means it's a good time to get out from under the cold canopy and enjoy some outdoor winter fun. Here are some of the choices...

If you will be sticking around Reno, here are some indoor things to do that will get you out of the cold.

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